During an election year, the phrase “improve government efficiency” is heard and promised, usually with little detail provided. That’s because until you work in an agency, it’s hard to really understand what efficiency is, let alone how it would improve your working environment. At the same time, there is wide acceptance that technology is essential for government transformation. However, at times there is little guidance regarding how technology can drive your government organization toward that misty and often elusive goal of “efficient government.”
As an IT director, what happens when you wake up on November 7th to face new directors, commissioners, mayors or governors who were elected on a platform of improving government efficiency? When you’re asked to contribute to briefings for newly elected officials and you sense the opportunity to improve your organization and provide some direction, how do you explain efficiency in government?
Here are three ideas to keep in mind:
- Time to retrieve – Addressing the time it takes to retrieve critical documents and the information they contain is one of the strongest and most basic ways to improve government processes. Consider how long it takes your staff to find the information needed to move the day-to-day tasks forward. How much time is spent searching for documents instead of focusing on more important tasks?
- Time to process – One of the reasons improving efficiency is common during election years is because of the time it takes to complete government processes. However, current revenue struggles in government have led to even fewer staff members available to complete processes like human service eligibility, plan reviews and public records requests. Typically, it’s the speed – or lack of it – of government processes that lead to candidates running on an “improve government efficiency” ticket. As a result, targeting ways to speed up these processes despite staff cutbacks will be a winning strategy for efficiency-minded officials while also relieving the pressure on your overworked colleagues.
- Time to take action – Decisions regarding courses of action define government. How can technology make sure these important decision points aren’t lost in the pile of work? When speaking with newly elected officials, it’s important to consider how long it takes your organization to address problems, issues and requests. Despite backlogs, government must address emergencies – such as child welfare and traffic accidents – in a timely manner.
Now, let’s say these ideas really resonate with your incoming elected officials. Next, you’ll be asked to propose ways to drive efficiency using technology. Consider the value an enterprise content management (ECM) solution offers. Typically, government has a split between data in department solutions and the documents that drive and record actions. Government must utilize ECM to contain costs and position itself to be the mobile, transparent and engaged force that constituents demand.
Here are two ways ECM can improve government processes:
- Integration – An ECM solution connects all of your data systems and the documents that drive government. When you integrate systems, staff instantly access information, reducing the time spent retrieving information from days and hours to seconds. And, with codeless integration tools, government can implement it affordably across all departments as time and budget permit.
- Automation – With ECM, government can use workflow automation to route critical work, notify staff of important tasks and digitize paper moving through agencies. Not only does this reduce the time needed to complete these processes, it also allows overwhelmed staff to focus on more important tasks like improving constituent services.
So, this election year, when you are asked to drive efficiency, think about how ECM can make government more efficient while also helping newly elected officials propose and support the technology investments government needs today and in the future.